Listening & Validation Are Essential To Make True Connections.
Through my efforts for personal and professional growth, I have studied a bunch of material, including hostage negotiation tactics from Chris Voss and skills to unleash inner power and maximize potential taught by Tony Robbins. The techniques vary from coach to coach, but there is consistency in the messaging: In order to connect with people, you must listen to them and validate their feelings.
Coaches like Chris Voss and Tony Robbins teach the importance of knowing yourself to generate confidence in who you are and what you want out of life. They also teach skills to help make progress and achieve growth as you move along in your journey.
Interpersonal communications are essential, and avoiding collisions is part of the training.
To Connect With People, You Cannot Collide With Them.
When someone has a thought or feeling, if you are not listening to what they are saying and you do not validate those thoughts and feelings at the beginning, you create a collision. Conversely, if you listen intently, validate and mirror back the thoughts and feelings you are hearing from the other person, you will make a stronger connection. Instead of creating a full-frontal collision, during which you run straight into the other person, validation puts you alongside that person, with your arm around them, setting you up to work side by side with each other. This is how you create connections.
Validation starts with listening intently to the other person’s issues or concerns and mirroring the concerns back to them.
It goes something like this:
- Party 1: I am feeling a little overwhelmed at work today. I have too much on my plate, and I also have some personal issues I am dealing with.
- Party 2: What I heard you say is that you are feeling overwhelmed at work today and that you also have some personal issues you need to deal with. Can you tell me more?
The first statement that Party 2 makes after Party 1 shares feelings is called a mirroring statement. When you are mirroring, you simply repeat back what you are hearing and ask if there is more to be shared, continuing until Party 1 responds with something like, “no, there is nothing else.”
Mirroring dialogue opens up the possibility for a discussion around the real factors, issues and feelings. It allows Party 1 to open up to Party 2 and share more, if desired. Mirroring also allows Party 2 the opportunity to empathize with Party 1 and create a connection. From this place of connection, we can make better decisions and take appropriate actions.
Mirroring Sounds Like Therapy. Why Is It Important In Business?
Yes, mirroring is like therapy. Mirroring is a skill that modern leaders must possess to be great coaches. Life coaches know how to avoid collisions by intercepting and validating the emotions of the person with whom they are communicating. Coaches know how to put their arms around the people they’re working with, walking alongside them to create connections.
The Mirroring Statement Is Where Validation Occurs.
Because you are actually repeating a statement back, the mirroring statement shows the other party that you are listening to what they said. The act of repeating the statement back validates the statement with the power of the spoken word. This exchange – the listening and repeating back – is critical in the process of validation and connection. Mirroring sets the stage and is the actual event that allows you to put your proverbial arm around the other party so you can walk with them.
But What If The Other Side Is Wrong?
Let’s imagine a work issue when the other side is (you believe) flat-out wrong. At first glance, validating may seem like it will compound a problem. However, crashing into each other head on, when you’re each running at full speed, will create a massive collision that is likely to knock out both parties. This is not a great scenario for creating connections and initiating change.
Instead of colliding, even when you know the other side is wrong, use mirroring statements and validation to put your arm around the other party, walk with them for a while and slow them down. In doing this, you will come to a point in time when, as a result of the connection through validation, you can turn the other party around. This is the real skill and art of the coach.
Mirroring Just Flat Out Works.
How do I know? I have been taught mirroring and validation as a form of connection by some of the top life coaches and therapists in the country as I pursued my personal development and growth. I have seen the impact mirroring can have in the most difficult discussions. I know you can trust the process, and I encourage you to try mirroring and validation as a path to connection.
If you want to dig in more on the mirroring concept, read the book Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. For a softer side of the concept, I recommend learning about Imago Relationship Therapy, which emphasizes talking, listening and connecting. Whether negotiating a hostage situation or addressing toxic relationships, connection is key.